MM Lee Kuan Yew’s visit to Malaysia, as he has said, is to feel the pulse of the people. Well, as an experience politician, who was once fighting within the system here, he is perhaps the best qualified of all SIngapore politicians to judge how and where Malaysia is heading.
I still remember 1964, when I was a primary school boy, following my father to the Esplanade in Penang to listen to the speech of Lee, who was then campaigning hard for PAP’s candidates in the 1964 General Election. The field was full of people (at that time, political rally was allowed), and what I remember was the thunderous claps that Lee received throughout his speech.
I cannot remember how many seats PAP contested in Penang then, since I was too young, but apparently, despite the huge turnout of people, PAP did not win any seats in Penang, where it fought against Alliance, United Democratic Party of Tun Dr Lim CHong Eu, and the Socialist Front . DR Lim of course won his Tanjung parliamentary seat , despite the many cornered fights. If I have remembered correctly, PAP won only the Bangsar seat with Devan Nair as the sole PAP MPs.
I suspect MM Lee must be secretly laughing inside now. In 1965, when Singapore was forced to go separate ways, after Lee trying to galvanise opposition parties such as UDP, PPP (under D.R. Seenivasagam), and parties from East Malaysia into a loose association, and this action was seen as challenging the Ketuanan supremacy.
At that time, economically SIngapore was at the same level as Malaysia. In fact, when I was studying in University of SIngapore in the 70s, Malaysian ringgit at one time was bigger than Singapore Dollars in exchange rate .
Now that Singapore has attained a first world standard in economy as well as many other aspects, Malaysia is far behind in many aspects, not only economically, but in the fields of education, excellence, governance.
He must be secretly gladful that SIngapore came out of Malaysia in 1965. 51 years after Independence, Malaysia is still embroiled in race politics. In everything and anything, race is the prime consideration, and that has really hampered the advance of the nation as a whole and polarise the people . Because of the ‘clutch’ mentality, everything in Malaysia has degraded from excellence to mediocrity. Even in sports such as football, we are now in the lowest hierarchy.
During my time, University Malaya and University of Singpaore were ranked as equal , as with University of HOng KOng — especially the rankings of the 3 medical schools. It is now so different; while Univeristy of HongKOng and University of Singapore are consistently ranked among the top universites in the world and Asia, ours is now ranked low down in the list ( some may say it is not even on the list) .
Incidentally, I think this university ranking can be taken as representative of everything comparative among the 2 countries.
It is true that economically we have also progressed, but the point of contention is we could have progressed much much more, if a different approach has been taken instead.
Imagine, if we could have progressed much more, and is as rich as Australia, even the poorest among us will be living a better life than now. All of us, regardless of colour, would have a better life than now.